You know that overwhelming, relentless anxious feeling that you have had since the pandemic started? Well, your children have been feeling it too. An overload of information, rumours and misinformation can make even the strongest child feel scared, anxious and out of control.
As a parent or caregiver, you need to make sure that they are exposed to only reliable information, and that they get this information directly from you. Talking to your children about COVID-19 can be challenging but is extremely necessary to keep them safe and sane.
But, what do you say? How do you approach the subject in a way as to not make them too scared while at the same time making them aware of the potential dangers that COVID-19 can bring once a person is infected with the virus?
This article will highlight the steps to take in order to talk about the Coronavirus with your children:
Find Out What Your Child Already Knows
It is always best to ask questions suited to your child’s age level. Try to choose a time in which your children are more likely to talk to you, such as at the dinner table.
If you are dealing with an older child, then you might ask what they know about the Coronavirus as well as what their friends have been saying about it. Ask them if they have any questions and answer them as factually as you can.
When it comes to younger children you can ask them if they have any questions about the new sickness that is going around and if they know anything about it. This will give you a chance to assess if your child has been hearing the wrong information. Listen and answer their questions in a way that they can understand.
It is very important to provide just enough information about the new coronavirus as is necessary without fueling any anxiety that the child may already be experiencing. Remember that children tend to have vast imaginations and you do not want to create unnecessary stories in their minds if you do not talk to them about the virus.
Be Honest but Comforting
Your main focus needs to remain on helping your child to feel safe, while being truthful and factual. Speak calmly and reassuringly and allow your child some time to share their fears with you. Reassure them that children do not seem to get as sick as adults and that they can come to you at any time with questions or fears that they may have about the virus.
Share simple facts about the pandemic that are age appropriate:
Explain Covid to Your Children
Let your child know that COVID-19 is caused by a germ that can make the body sick. Explain to them that people who become infected with COVID-19 may have a cough, fever and trouble taking deep breaths. Also tell them that some people who are infected have very mild symptoms almost like that of the common cold.
Tell Them How the Virus Can Be Spread
This part is essential. Children need to know how the virus can be contracted and how to best protect themselves against it. Explain to them that the virus that causes COVID-19 enters a person’s body when it’s on their hands and they touch their mouths, nose or eyes.
Teach Them to Take Practical Steps Towards Better Hygiene
Encourage your child to wash their hands frequently and carry sanitizer and other protective PPE items with them at all times when leaving the house.
Show them how to sneeze or cough into a tissue or cough into a bent elbow. Let them help you to clean and disinfect frequently touched items and surfaces around the house. Remember if you are a good role model your children will usually follow in your footsteps.
Tell Them That Home Is Best
This is particularly hard for a teenager to grasp. They need to be reminded that events are canceled, and the family is going to be staying at home more often than usual. It is important to explain to them how doing this can help prevent the spread of the virus.
Teach Them About Social Distancing
Your children should be made aware that it is best to avoid close contact with people outside of home, even if they don’t appear to be sick. Remind them to keep a safe distance between themselves and others when they are out of the house or at school.
Keep Your Children Healthy
Teach your children healthy habits such as eating a well-balanced diet, getting regular physical activity and getting a good night’s sleep. Getting enough sleep and washing their hands often can help them stay strong and well.
Talk About All the Good Things
Reassure your children that doctors and hospitals are fully prepared and capable to handle people that are sick. Let them know that although this may be a serious virus, that most times symptoms are mild.
Let Them Know That What They Feel is Normal
Let your child know that their feelings are completely normal and that everybody around the world is experiencing similar feelings at this moment in time. Assure them that stressful times pass, and that life will eventually get back to normal. This helps children to build resilience.
Seek Professional Advice
Some children may start to exhibit persistent problems with sleep, changes in eating habits or difficulty concentrating on daily tasks. You may notice that you child is anxious and overwhelmed. It is important to contact a doctor or a mental health professional if you have any concerns or notice any significant changes in your child.
Teach them How to Use PPE
There are many different types of PPE. These include face shields, gloves, goggles and glasses, gowns, head covers, masks, respirators, and shoe covers. Teach your children how to correctly use personal protective equipment so as to protect themselves from the transmission of germs.
Watchhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqvrXQZOr_A for some helpful tips on explaining PPE to children.
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